Edward Alexander Wadsworth
29 October 1889
Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, England
|Died||21 June 1949 59) (aged|
Edward Alexander Wadsworth ARA (29 October 1889 – 21 June 1949) was an English artist, closely associated with modernist Vorticism movement. He painted coastal views, abstracts, portraits and still-life in tempera medium and works printed using wood engraving and copper. In the First World War he designed dazzle camouflage for the Royal Navy, and continued to paint nautical themes after the war.
Wadsworth was born on 29 October 1889 in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, and educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh.  He studied engineering in Munich between 1906 and 1907, where he studied art in his spare time at the Knirr School. This provoked a change of course, as he attended Bradford School of Art before earning a scholarship to the Slade School of Art, London.  His contemporaries at the school included Stanley Spencer, CRW Nevinson, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and David Bomberg.
Wadsworth's work was included in Roger Fry's second Post-Impressionism Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, 1912, in London, but he changed allegiance shortly after through friendship with Wyndham Lewis, and exhibited some futurist-derived paintings at the Futurist Exhibitions at the Doré Gallery. Although a member of the committee that organised a dinner in honour of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1913, he was one of a number of British painters in the nascent avant-garde that became increasingly disenchanted with the Italian's arrogance. By June of the following year, he was in a group of artists, including Lewis, who jeered Marinetti's public performance of The Battle Of Adrianople.  He was a signatory of the Vorticist Manifesto published in BLAST the next month,  and also supplied a review of Kandinsky's Concerning The Spiritual In Art and images to be reproduced in the magazine. 
Thirty three days after the Vorticist Manifesto was published, war was declared on Germany. Vorticism managed to continue into 1915, with a Vorticist Exhibition, June 1915 at the Doré Gallery and a second edition of BLAST published to coincide with the show. Wadsworth contributed to both, but signed up for the navy shortly after. His fellow vorticist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska was killed at the front and Bomberg and Lewis found that their belief in the purity of the machine age was seriously challenged by the realities of the trenches. Wadsworth spent the war in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on the island of Mudros until invalided out in 1917, transferring dazzle camouflage designs onto allied ships.   Known as Dazzle ships, these vessels were not camouflaged to become invisible, but instead used ideas derived from Vorticism and Cubism to confuse enemy U-boats trying to pinpoint the direction and speed of travel.  Dazzle camouflage was invented and designed by Norman Wilkinson. Always a fan of modern ships, Wadsworth was to use nautical themes in his art for the rest of his career.
Heralded by the major painting Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool , 1919, Wadsworth moved away from the avant-garde in the 1920s, and adopted a more realistic style. Wadsworth was a member of Unit One. Towards the end of his life his work became increasingly strange and surreal, although Wadsworth never had any formal links with the official Surrealist movement.
Wadsworth died in 1949, and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.
The graphic designer Peter Saville had seen Wadsworth's painting Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool and was struck by the image. After suggesting the idea and title to Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Saville carried the theme over to the sleeve design of their album Dazzle Ships (1983).
Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti was an Italian poet, editor, art theorist, and founder of the Futurist movement. He was associated with the utopian and Symbolist artistic and literary community Abbaye de Créteil between 1907 and 1908. Marinetti is best known as the author of the first Futurist Manifesto, which was written and published in 1909, and as a co-author of the Fascist Manifesto, in 1919.
Percy Wyndham Lewis was a British writer, painter and critic. He was a co-founder of the Vorticist movement in art and edited BLAST, the literary magazine of the Vorticists.
Vorticism was a London-based modernist art movement formed in 1914 by the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis. The movement was partially inspired by Cubism and was introduced to the public by means of the publication of the Vorticist manifesto in Blast magazine. Familiar forms of representational art were rejected in favour of a geometric style that tended towards a hard-edged abstraction. Lewis proved unable to harness the talents of his disparate group of avant-garde artists; however, for a brief period Vorticism proved to be an exciting intervention and an artistic riposte to Marinetti's Futurism and the post-impressionism of Roger Fry's Omega Workshops.
David Garshen Bomberg was a British painter, and one of the Whitechapel Boys.
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy, and to a lesser extent in other countries, in the early 20th century. It emphasized dynamism, speed, technology, youth, violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city. Its key figures included the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Fortunato Depero, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo. Italian Futurism glorified modernity and according to its doctrine, aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past. Important Futurist works included Marinetti's 1909 Manifesto of Futurism, Boccioni's 1913 sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Balla's 1913–1914 painting Abstract Speed + Sound, and Russolo's The Art of Noises (1913).
Umberto Boccioni was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. He helped shape the revolutionary aesthetic of the Futurism movement as one of its principal figures. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass guided artists long after his death. His works are held by many public art museums, and in 1988 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City organized a major retrospective of 100 pieces.
Blast was the short-lived literary magazine of the Vorticist movement in Britain. Two editions were published: the first on 2 July 1914 and featured a bright pink cover, referred to by Ezra Pound as the "great MAGENTA cover'd opusculus"; and the second a year later on 15 July 1915. Both editions were written primarily by Wyndham Lewis. The magazine is emblematic of the modern art movement in England, and recognised as a seminal text of pre-war 20th-century modernism. The magazine originally cost 2/6.
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was an English figure and landscape painter, etcher and lithographer, who was one of the most famous war artists of World War I. He is often referred to by his initials C. R. W. Nevinson, and was also known as Richard.
William Patrick Roberts was a British artist.
Gino Severini was an Italian painter and a leading member of the Futurist movement. For much of his life he divided his time between Paris and Rome. He was associated with neo-classicism and the "return to order" in the decade after the First World War. During his career he worked in a variety of media, including mosaic and fresco. He showed his work at major exhibitions, including the Rome Quadrennial, and won art prizes from major institutions.
Zang Tumb Tumb is a sound poem and concrete poem written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Italian futurist. It appeared in excerpts in journals between 1912 and 1914, when it was published as an artist's book in Milan. It is an account of the Battle of Adrianople, which he witnessed as a reporter for L'Intransigeant. The poem uses Parole in libertà and other poetic impressions of the events of the battle, including the sounds of gunfire and explosions. The work is now seen as a seminal work of modernist art, and an enormous influence on the emerging culture of European avant-garde print.
"[The] masterpiece of Words-in-freedom and of Marinetti’s literary career was the novel Zang Tumb Tuuum... the story of the siege by the Bulgarians of Turkish Adrianople in the Balkan War, which Marinetti had witnessed as a war reporter. The dynamic rhythms and onomatopoetic possibilities that the new form offered were made even more effective through the revolutionary use of different typefaces, forms and graphic arrangements and sizes that became a distinctive part of Futurism. In Zang Tumb Tuuum; they are used to express an extraordinary range of different moods and speeds, quite apart from the noise and chaos of battle.... Audiences in London, Berlin and Rome alike were bowled over by the tongue-twisting vitality with which Marinetti declaimed Zang Tumb Tuuum. As an extended sound poem it stands as one of the monuments of experimental literature, its telegraphic barrage of nouns, colours, exclamations and directions pouring out in the screeching of trains, the rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire, and the clatter of telegraphic messages" Caroline Tisdall and Angelo Bozzola
Cubo-Futurism was an art movement that arose in early 20th century Russian Empire, defined by its amalgamation of the artistic elements found in Italian Futurism and French Analytical Cubism. Cubo-Futurism was the main school of painting and sculpture practiced by the Russian Futurists. In 1913, the term ‘Cubo-Futurism’ first came to describe works from members of the poetry group ‘Hylaeans’, as they moved away from poetic Symbolism towards Futurism and zaum, the experimental “visual and sound poetry of Kruchenykh and Khlebninkov”. Later in the same year the concept and style of ‘Cubo-Futurism’ became synonymous with the works of artists within Ukrainian and Russian post-revolutionary avant-garde circles as they interrogated non-representational art through the fragmentation and displacement of traditional forms, lines, viewpoints, colours, and textures within their pieces. The impact of Cubo-Futurism was then felt within performance art societies, with Cubo-Futurist painters and poets collaborating on theatre, cinema, and ballet pieces that aimed to break theatre conventions through the use of nonsensical zaum poetry, emphasis on improvisation, and the encouragement of audience participation.
Events from the year 1914 in art.
Norman Wilkinson was a British artist who usually worked in oils, watercolours and drypoint. He was primarily a marine painter, but also an illustrator, poster artist, and wartime camoufleur. Wilkinson invented dazzle painting to protect merchant shipping during the First World War.
Russian Ballet is an artist's book by the English artist David Bomberg published in 1919. The work describes the impact of seeing a performance of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and is based on a series of drawings Bomberg had done around 1914, while associated with the Vorticist group of avant-garde artists in London. Centred on Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, the movement flourished briefly 1914–1915, before being dispersed by the impact of the First World War. The only surviving example of a vorticist artist's book, the work can be seen as a parody of Marinetti's seminal futurist book Zang Tumb Tumb, using similar language to the Italian's work glorifying war, but instead praising the impact of watching the decidedly less macho Ballets Russes in full flow.
Bomberg was the most audacious painter of his generation at the Slade, proving ... that he could absorb the most experimental European ideas, fuse these with Jewish influences and come up with a robust alternative of his own. His treatment of the human figure, in terms of angular, clear-cut forms charged with enormous energy, reveals his determination to bring about a drastic renewal in British painting. —Richard Cork
Cuthbert Hamilton (1885–1959) was a British artist associated with the Vorticist movement and later with Group X. He was one of the pioneers of abstract art in Britain.
The Mud Bath is a 1914 oil-on-canvas painting by David Bomberg. The work is considered a masterpiece of Bomberg's work in this period. Bomberg was a founder member of the London Group, and the painting is considered a leading example of Vorticism, although Bomberg resisted being described as a Vorticist.
Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool is a 1919 painting by the English artist Edward Wadsworth. It is one of Wadsworth's most famous paintings.
The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel, Spring 1915 is a 1961–1962 painting by the English artist William Roberts. It depicts the Vorticist group gathered at a French restaurant in London.
The Wild Body is a series of short stories by Wyndham Lewis that appeared in English and American publications between 1917 and 1922. Nine short stories comprise a series that follows the narrator Ker-Orr in his adventures around Brittany. The first of the series, A Soldier of Good Humour, first appeared in the December 1917 and January 1918 editions of American Literary publication The Little Review. Other stories in the collection are: Beau Sejour, The Cornac and His Wife, The Death of the Ankou, Franciscan Adventures, Brotcotnaz, Inferior Religions and The Meaning of the Wild Body. A later story, Sigismund, was written in 1922 and appeared in Arts and Letters. The final story is You Broke My Dream also written in 1922. The collected short stories were published in a single edition by Chatto & Windus of London in 1927, and Harcourt Brace of New York in 1928.